In the age of tired, formulaic chants (refer to Ollie's recent piece "Shall We Sing A Song For You" below for examples) there are few more instinctive reactions for a football fan than a good, hearty smug "waaaaaa[h]eeeeeeeyyyyy!" (the "h" is optional, and depends purely on the individual, but the additional syllable is often problematic for the average fan).
Usually a sign that the match is going your way (and, quite spectacularly, not the way of the opposing team and supporters), such an outburst is reserved for the more comical moments in the ninety minutes. The Angle... presents the incidents most likely to generate one. In no particular order:
1. The referee falling over.
A relatively rare example of when the whole ground can morally justify joining in, the "Waaaey!" that ensues when the referee goes to ground is immediate and heartfelt. A truly classic "Waaaey!".
2. An opposing player's pass goes astray.
A fascinating example. There are two stipulations that must be addressed in order for the "Waaaey!" to occur here. Firstly, the ball must cross the touchline, as to emphasise the misplacement of the pass. Secondly, although occasional exceptions can be made for fans of lower-league sides, the players concerned must be on the losing side.
Once these criteria have been met, this example of a "Waaaey!" is subject to a form of sliding scale:
Relatively quick, sharp "Waaaey!" when short pass eludes full-back and exits field of play.
Long pass proves too high for wide player, and drifts hopelessly over his head.
Low pass eludes intended recipient and heads towards touchline, but slowly enough to give hope of rescue. Intended recipient chases ball, but fails to reach it and slides unceremoniously out of play, usually into advertising hoardings or, more excitingly, into front row of opposing fans.
Has been the maximum attainable level on the Stray Pass/Waaaey! (SP/W) Scale since c.1992, when the backpass law was introduced. Occurs when a full-back's pass to a goalkeeper races towards the goal-line and out for a corner. The accumulative effect of flailing custodian, hands-on-head full-back, cheaply-won corner, confrontation between said custodian and full-back and the resultant possibility of a scoring chance all mean that the maximum SP/W level has thus been reached.
The further up the scale, the more drawn-out the "Waaaey!" becomes. A longer "Waaaey!" serves to highlight the increased calamity of the spectacle in question. Furthermore, the longer the "Waaaey!", the more pronounced the inflection at the end ("WaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeEEY!"), in order to provide a definitive end to the episode.
3. A second yellow card.
It is important to make clear what warrants and constitutes a "Waaaey!" and what does not. Celebrating a goal, whether or not it involves a similar cheer, is not, under any circumstances, a Waaaey!-worthy event. Although usually set aside for more humorous incidents (as the majority of examples in this article are), a "Waaaey!" can be called upon as the weapon of choice with which to ridicule and individual or collectively signpost a player's misfortune of any sort (barring serious injury).
A clear example of this is the second yellow card. While undoubtedly an expression of the pleasure towards their team gaining a numerical advantage, the fans of the beneficiaries of the sending-off also wish to give the departing member of the opposition a fitting send-off. The referee assists here, acting as an unwitting conductor. The first yellow is shown, causing a ripple of recognition in the stands. Just as the crowd realise the implications of it, the red card follows and they are given licence to "Waaaey!" as they wish. Spoilsport referees, who surprisingly include attention-magnet Graham Poll among their ranks, wish to brandish the cards in quick succession. Although this succeeds in removing the rhythmic element of the "Waaaey!", it does little to stifle its fervour.
4. The "Ironic Cheer".
A unique example of a "Waaaey!", this occurs when the referee is perceived to finally give the home side an overdue decision in their favour. It is mandatory, on any televised match, for the commentator or co-commentator to mention this. A useful, harmless way to vent anger towards an official.
5. A shot that goes out for a throw-in.
When a shot is sliced (veers in the other direction to the foot that strikes it, due to lack of purchase) or dragged (the exact opposite) and subsequently rolls out for a throw-in, this again entitles the opposing fans to emit a loud "Waaaey!". If the SP/W Scale was extended to include shots on goal (or intended to be so), such an effort would probably register around the Strong/Ridicule mark.
6. Player hit in groin by football.
An instantly identifiable event, marked by the crumpling of the player to the ground in a manner that simply cannot be simulated, this is perhaps the cruellest of all "Waaaeys!". Players getting struck in the unmentionables are a highlight for stadium and armchair fans alike, the latter even being treated to a slow-motion replay of the incident. As with the ironic cheer, (co-)commentators feel compelled to offer something humourous at this point. When the commentator is Clive Tyldesley, however, there is a further compulsion on the part of the viewer to re-enact the incident upon him.
7. Injured referee/linesman.
A beautiful example of a good "Waaaey!". Similar, of course, to a referee merely falling over, the "Waaaey!" here is accompanied by a period of reflection allowed by the stoppage in play, in which the referee receives appropriate treatment. How it is decided which medical team is deployed to assist the ailing official has not been established, and clearly warrants further investigation. Undoubtedly hilarious shouts toward the referee that he is in some way pretending to be injured (the "irony" of which is too much for fans to resist) ring out randomly.
8. A streaker.
The invasion of a naked member of the public into proceedings, whilst being a bit You've Been Framed, is another prime candidate for a solid "Waaaey!". Indeed, depending on the success of the uninivited guest in evading the police and the markedly more inadequate stewards, this incident can result in a multitude of "Waaaey!"s. An act enjoyed by everybody present, except Barry Davies, whose retirement from football commentary allowed him to take up the art of grandfatherly disapproval full-time.
9. Manager controls the ball.
Often the reserve of limelight-fetishist managers such as Alan Pardew, Stuart Pearce or Steve Bruce, the literal take on "kicking every ball" often rouses the supporters into some semblance of a "Waaaey!". Interestingly, both skilfully adept or comically bad attempts to retrieve the football in the technical area are greeted with the same approval from the onlookers.
10. Linesman "fouled" by full-back.
Similar (yes, I know...) to No.s 1 & 7, a linesman being taken out by a full-back is a delightful sight. It is set apart from its aforementioned official-plight cousins by virtue of the fact that it directly, and violently, involves a player. Unless a rare serious injury has been inflicted on the referee's assistant, the reaction of the assailant can range from sheepish schoolboy grin to all-out laughter with teammates and opposition players alike, regardless of language barriers.
One interesting conclusion can be drawn from this, and similar, incidents. Despite spending 90 minutes berating the opposition, the opposition fans, useless members of their own team or the board (but only at Villa Park and debt-ridden League Two clubs), football supporters, if they are really honest, thoroughly enjoy sharing a light-hearted moment with everyone present. An incident that brings the whole ground together in a moment of comedy should be applauded. The fact that sincere hostilities are resumed within seconds is even more brilliant.
Despite their weary protestations, the media absolutely adore a protracted transfer saga. The newspapers chart the player's on-off move, the internet provides up-to-the-minute updates, and the bloodthirsty Sky Sports News plonk a poor reporter in front of either clubs' stadium at 6am, hoping for a scoop. The advent of the January transfer window should mean that a protracted transfer saga (PTS) can now only really take place in the summer months. Several clubs and players are then unwittingly forced to do battle for the dubious and unofficial honour of PTS of the Summer. Of course, the Bosman ruling has ensured a theoretical exception - PTSs can now have a lengthy prologue that involves the thrashing out of personal terms between player and prospective new employers, without the need for a pesky transfer fee. Now, while these negotiations can go on a bit, a PTS without drawn-out haggling over the transfer fee is simply not a PTS at all.
Years of study into the annual phenomenon of the PTS can now be concluded definitively. Football Clichés presents The Ten Chapters of a Protracted Transfer Saga:
Chapter I - The Honeytrap
A player begins to reportedly "attract interest" from "several clubs", also known as the no shortage of suitors. If he is considered good enough in these early stages, this elite group of "several clubs" will probably include Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, all of whom will be mulling over a bid. This, I'm sure you will agree, is a very cunning way for totally uninformed media to hedge their bets for the outcome of an embryonic PTS.
Chapter II - The Hansen Magnifier
Once a player's marketability has been established, the football industry has an unspoken and unwritten agreement with the BBC. The terms of this deal mean that, when appropriate, the player in question will be the subject of a post-highlights video montage on Match of the Day. Alan Hansen, or whoever is his co-pundit that night, will analyse fairly unspectacular footage of the player's performance, concluding with the claim that the player has "a bright future". If the player is a defender, for example, several clips of him making routine interceptions will be interpreted as early signs of a superstar in the making.
A similar agreement exists with Sky. In this case, the player will receive the full attention of the ever-eager studio pundit Jamie Redknapp (who has emerged as a useful marketing tool in these early stages of the PTS, mainly due to his complete aversion to criticising players in any way) during the course of the pre-match warm-up. Complete with stats at the bottom of the screen, it is a spectacle that PTS experts feel is akin to watching kitchenware being hawked on QVC.
Chapter III - The "Hands-Off" Warning
Never be fooled by its dismissive nature - the "hands-off" warning signals a gear-change for the PTS which, in hindsight, proves to be the beginning of the (albeit distant) end. A stalwart of the football vernacular, the "hands-off" warning is invariably issued by the player's manager. Unequivocal in his defiance, the naive boss tells the media:
"We've had no bids for [Player X] and, to be honest, I wouldn't welcome any. We're not in a position where we need to sell players and it would take silly money for him to leave this football club."
The manager is at least careful not to specify an exact hypothetical figure for this "silly money", because to do so would constitute slapping a price tag on the player, hastening his departure considerably.
Unfortunately, the "hands-off" warning is inevitably the victim of Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion ("For every action force there is an equal, but opposite, reaction force."). This equal, opposite force can be found lurking in Chapter VI.
Chapter IV - The Loyalty Pledge
Having obtained the manager's inadvertent assurance that the player will be leaving, the media then seeks a statement from the player themselves. Influenced no doubt by their agent and, more heavily, by thousands of similar player statements in the past, the in-demand ace will, very probably, utter the following:
"I'm happy to stay at the club. I'm flattered by the interest, but it's all speculation. I'm a [Club X] player until told otherwise."
A sigh of relief for the fans, then, but the statement still leaves open all possibilities. Again, a PTS veteran should interpret this as a warning sign for the acceleration of the eventual deal.
Chapter V - The Bid
Finally, contact is made and a bid lodged. At this stage, it is not uncommon for the bidding club to remain officially anonymous, but not essential. Even less uncommon is the reaction of the manager (and often the chairman) of the player's club - the bid will almost always be dismissed as derisory. One of those words that you sense those involved in football only know because of its use by those involved in football (see also; lackadaisical - known as lacksadaisical in football circles), "derisory" is the put-down of choice when it comes to opening bids. It also serves as a minor ego-boost for the smaller clubs, as a rare opportunity to look down their noses at the big boys.
Chapter VI - The "Come-And-Get-Me" Plea
As outlined in Chapter III, the "hands-off" warning has an evil twin. It arrives in the form of the "come-and-get-me" plea. An even more awkardly-named cliché, the "come-and-get-me" plea is the clear declaration from the player that, after the derisory opening bid, he now wants to leave the club, despite his earlier pledge of loyalty. Perhaps a tabloid device, its official name is "written transfer request". Verbal, emailed, texted, tweeted or carrier-pigeoned transfer requests are, regrettably, few and far between. While the bid rejection succeeds in at least stalling the inevitable, the club's reaction to their player's request to leave matters not a jot. For the record, though, the written transfer request is turned down.
In extreme cases, the selling club (for that is what they will surely be) banishes the player to train with the reserves or, more damningly, the youth team. In a spectacular example of face-spite-induced nose removal, the club prepares itself for the player's departure. Alternatively, such a decision may indicate that the chairman/manager is a learned student of the PTS, and recognises that resistance is futile.
As a side note, It must be added that this is a precarious, pivotal stage for the player. If they get injured and/or the deal collapses, the already frozen-out player will find themselves in the terrifying-sounding transfer limbo. The only recognised way of escaping transfer limbo is to humbly withdraw the written transfer request request and knuckle down once more.
Chapter VII - The Negotiation
Now the two clubs are finally in dialogue over a possible deal (this may involve one or two further bids, which would be immune from the label derisory), the PTS would appear to be in full swing. As with any true saga, however, a potential twist is always on the horizon. It is at this tense stage that the media begin to meddle. Reports of bid hijacks are rife, as other clubs, perceived to be bigger than the original suitor, are drawn in to the melee. Whether such interventions materialise is an unpredictable matter, but Sky Sports News are on red alert anyway.
Chapter VIII - Personal Terms
With the fee finally agreed, the player is then free to discuss personal terms. Sky Sports News' persistence pays off, and a video of the player leaving the training ground in his car is looped endlessly. Despite the age of the greedy footballer, personal terms are still widely regarded as a formality, unless they prove to be a stumbling block. The same also usually applies to the medical that the player must undergo. At this stage, the deal can be sealed, pending any unexpected, miscellaneous snag.
Chapter IX - The Parade
At a press conference (broadcast on Sky Sports News, naturally) the player is finally unveiled (although unveiling is more often associated with new managers) and subsequently paraded. The absence of any veils or marching bands does little to take away from these events. It is usually the first opportunity for the player to finally speak out about the transfer, and the tried-and-tested statement is always worth the wait:
"I'm delighted to be here. As soon as I heard of [Club X's] interest, there was only one place I wanted to go. This is a massive club."
More brazen new signings go one step further and shamelessly try to profess boyhood support for their new club. Other variations include a player that has signed for a Championship club (particularly if he has left the top-flight to do so) describing his new employers as having "everything geared towards Premier League football" - a strange statement that seems to ignore the fact that the reason that the club looks like it is geared towards Premier League football is because it once was in the Premier League, but got relegated in pitiful fashion, crippled by debt and lumbered with a half-empty, albeit pristine, Lego stadium.
Chapter X - "It Was Always In the Script, Wasn't It?"
The PTS reaches its conclusion (for strikers at least) with a return for the player to for a match against his previous club. Depending on how acrimonious his departure was, the player will inevitably be sought out pre-match to comment on the reception he may face on the day. In the history of the PTS, no player has ever expressed slight concern at the reception he may face on the day.
Anyway, egged on by script-wielding commentators, the player inevitably will get on the scoresheet on his return to his old stomping ground. This is, of course, followed by the melodramatic, look-at-me-aren't-I-honourable, ubercliché that is the muted celebration, a nice touch designed to impress the sort of emotional knife-edge fans that can be bothered to call in to football phone-ins after the match.
And so the PTS ends. But at what point during its evolution does a PTS become recognised as such? A protracted transfer arguably emerges at Chapter V, when the stand-off over a rejected bid threatens to hold the process up. It's not enough to warrant being called a "saga", however. That requires Chapter VI - the point at which everyone genuinely starts to get a bit fed up.
In the infancy of Radio 5, someone had an idea. They were sick of the proliferation of the "what do you think of
However, someone had forgot to pay homage to the Gods of Sports Broadcasting - not enough banalities, clichés and lazy observations. The presenter was smote and replaced by someone who would worship at his feet. Either that or it was Danny Baker pleading with the public to hound referee Mike Reed in the street for awarding a penalty for Erland Johnsen's dive against
We now have 6-0-6 and it's chavvier, more stupid cousin 5-0-5 on TalkDrivel. It gives us, the hoi polloi, our platform to be pundits for a few minutes. With the Great British public, with all its diversity, we anticipated a rich tapestry of styles of caller. We were disappointed. We now examine the basic rules & character traits of those of calling Alan Green, Ray Stubbs or, god forbid, Spoony…
If you want to make the most of your air time you need to follow some basic rules. NEVER declare that you wish to “make two or three points” as you will only get time for one of your inane comments. If you do wish to talk about more than one thing then it is essential to do the following;
DON'T say hello to the presenter or ask about his health
DO immediately say "Before I go on to my main point…." This makes it clear that you're a someone with something to say!
DO fill the gap between Pre-Amble and Main Point with "…but that's not the main reason I phoned" to prevent being cut off.
DON'T be too critical of another team, even if they are your greatest rivals. I did this once and was chastised by Lawrie McMenemy!
The Regular Caller
How these people get through week after week is beyond me. Undeterred by minutes and minutes of hearing the engaged tone, they WILL be heard by the nation. You hear a name and a location and the heart sinks, as you realise a deranged five-minute tirade will follow. Normally on a one-man crusade to see the back of a manager, player or group of players - these men (it's always men) will stop at nothing until the board see sense and follow his advice and live in the false hope that the manager is actually listening to his "main point". These people are invariably totally unrepresentative of the opinion of the broad fan base. Martin from
This bloke has been waiting patiently on the phone for about an hour. His time has come. He is about to solve all his club's problems in his allotted three minutes, he hears his calling "and now we have Clive on the M6.." - and all the nation hears is "I..to..th..a…ls…" Disaster has struck for Clive on the M6 - his phone as let him down when he needed it most. The presenter humours him by promising to call him back. He's lying. Clive has blown it.
The Mini-Bus Full of Non-League Supporters
It's been their big day out in the 2nd round of the Cup. They've managed a 0-0 away at Coventry. They are drunk. The least drunk one tries to be sensible. He is drowned out by cheering and shouting.
Depressed & Resigned To Relegation
These are my favourite types of call, enough to enliven even the dullest of journeys. They normally surface mid-to-late March when supporters of teams who have been in the relegation zone all season, after one 3-0 defeat too many have finally thrown in the towel. The players are still vowing to fight on, the manager refuses to give up until it's mathematically possible, but the fans have realised it's all over. They are going down. The unexpected draws away from home, the 2-1 home defeat of the league leaders are now distant memories and all that is left is defeat after defeat as their team just makes up the numbers. There will be no rage against the dying of the light - just them slipping silently away.
I laugh at their misery!
That covers the 95% of your post match entertainment on a Saturday. We also have honourable mentions for Token But Sadly Clueless Woman, The Qualified Referee and the hated Only Supporter Who Believes Their Captain Deserved To Be Sent Off.
I salute you all.
The pre-match and half-time entertainment now involves sights such as a myriad of dancing, pre-pubescent, cheerleading girls (and occasionally boys), the parading of past ‘legends’ (such as Espen Baardsen, who walked out in front of the Spurs fans recently as they struggled to remember who he was. When asked “what was it like playing with Jurgen Klinsmann?”, he replied: “I can’t remember, I didn’t play much and when I did it was in goal”). Overly-jubilant competition winners get introduced to a crowd who are far more interested in reading their programme or queuing for a pie or a piss than half-heartedly clapping the fat idiot who was sad enough to enter the sponsor’s quiz in last week’s programme.
Most fans appreciate that, other than the match itself, the only other way that they will get real entertainment is in ripping the piss out of the other team’s relative ambitions, geographical positioning and employing some stereotypical regionalisation. There is a general acceptance that some grounds are more ‘hostile’ or ‘lively’ than others and it generally appears that the smaller the ground, the closer to the pitch the fans are and the more regional their accents – the more ‘difficult to go to’ the stadium is for the opposition.
The anorak's choice for football coverage, a pixellated wonderland of space-saving football clichés and, best of all, the most nerve-wracking place to follow your team over 90 minutes.
Yes, it's Ceefax.
Born on September 23rd 1974, Ceefax still holds its own. More reliable and accessible (if a tad slower) than the internet, it remains for many the easiest way of checking the scores at a glance. But if you're simply using Ceefax as a convenient score service, you are rather spectacularly missing out.
After years of consulting Ceefax as a matter of course, my fingers now effortlessly and instinctively punch out 3....0....2. As iconic a figure to me as my birthdate, my PIN code or my phone number, page 302 of Ceefax has come to mean many things. A trustworthy footballing companion, whose reporting and facts I can trust implicitly; a safe-haven of interest on a Sunday afternoon when the only other option is the Antiques Roadshow ("I think, at auction, this item, if it was in perfect condition, would be looking at around......"); and, as a more guilty pleasure perhaps, a treasure trove of lower-league miscellany (more of which later).
My lengthy experience of Ceefax has ensured I am fully versed in its unique and skilled use of language. Limited in the amount of space they can fill, the headlines and articles are forced to employ a simple code of efficient words and phrases; a detailed and alphabetised (if not all-encompassing) list is as follows:
Ace – A Ceefax writer’s dream (a three letter word), ace should signify a highly-regarded player. In fact, it is a label attributed to any Tom, Dick or Jose in the news.
Example: Blues Close In On Deportivo Ace
Axe – A very popular way of describing the sacking of a manager. Is also used, less frequently, to report the dropping of a high-profile player from a squad.
Example: Macclesfield Axe Ince
Bid – Normally associated with proposed transfer deals, bid actually often appears as a synonym for a team’s efforts to achieve a season-long goal.
Example: Henry Strikes To Boost Gunners Title Bid
Blast – A vitriolic burst of criticism, with various possible sources or targets.
Example: Warnock Blasts Referee Rennie
Blow – A disappointing event, invariably associated with injuries.
Example: Spurs Suffer Mido Injury Blow
Boost – The polar opposite of a blow.
Example: Mido Injury Boost For Spurs
Dent – A type of blow, but one that only affects a bid.
Example: United Title Bid Dented By Stalemate
Joy – Exploiting its three-letter status to the full, joy is the weapon of choice to describe a manager’s/player’s happiness.
Example: Coppell Joy At Reading Comeback
Raid – Used specifically to describe the act of signing a player from a club who are neither rich nor high-profile enough to prevent his departure.
Rap – A cult favourite, this diminutive word is far catchier than “disciplinary proceedings”.
Example: Allardyce Faces FA Rap Over Bung Allegations
Set for – With dramatic effect, this cliffhanger of a word pre-empts a confirmed transfer.
Example: Hargreaves Set For United Move
Sorry – Quite simply, a shorter version of the word “pathetic”.
Switch – A swiftly-completed move, usually not hampered by technicalities or haggling.
Example: Lauren Completes Pompey Switch
Swoop – Similar to a raid, if rather less exciting, it again refers to a bigger club signing a player from a smaller club.
Example: Arsenal Linked With Harewood Swoop
However, it is not just the above that secures Ceefax its anorak status. Hidden away towards the bottom of page 302 is the ultimate in football geek ammunition. Modestly titled “News In Brief”, this multi-page section was found for many years on page 312. Serving as a sort of Sir-Trevor-McDonald–and-finally-style offering after the viewer had digested the meatier news stories above it, it has subsequently moved to the less glamorous page 323.
Thankfully, its output, a swift journey through the transfer dealings and hard luck stories of the lower leagues and abroad, remains as fascinating as ever. Only thanks to page 312/323 will I rest assured at night knowing that Blackpool winger Rory Prendergast has completed his switch to League Two strugglers Rochdale, that Burton Albion midfielder Lee Fowler is set to leave after being placed on the transfer list at the Pirelli Stadium, or that West Ham striker Hogan Ephraim has extended his loan spell at Colchester United until the end of the season.
Horrifyingly, a BBC Ceefax overlord has also seen fit to create a “gossip” page, which cherry-picks the raciest football rumours from the tabloids. It is not for the purists however, and this 302 devotee has thus far steered clear of its heresy.
I welcome the internet, the suave male and attractive female presenter partnerships on Sky Sports News, and even the modest sports round-ups on the radio, but Ceefax was, is, and always will be the place where I will find out if Barnet’s appeal against the two red cards shown to Dean Sinclair and Ian Hendon has been successful.
The following images encapsulate the delights of Ceefax. From the main page (Kettering, what are you doing?) to the delights of the underworld of page 323 (nee 312) - the only place on the planet where you'll see "Ronaldinho" and "Walton & Hersham" share the same page. Brilliant.
Ceefax, I salute you.
"Good evening everybody..."
One of the most exciting spectacles of modern football is undoubtedly the Managerial Merry-Go-Round (the MMGR). A constantly rotating showcase of the game's most talented and enduring bosses, the MMGR serves the game (and, indeed, the media) with a reliable gauge of the available and unemployed, who proclaim themselves as "itching to get back into the game".
As it stands, the current set of hopefuls riding the MMGR are as follows*:
- David O'Leary: Destined for frequent visits to the MMGR, thanks to a near-apocalyptic end to his Leeds reign and an underwhelming stint at the talent black hole that is
Villa Park, O'Leary has wrested control of the biggest and most spectacular seat on the MMGR.
- Peter Reid: Although perhaps becoming rather bored of the MMGR, Reid remains a prominent figure. There are signs that he is pursuing alternative thrills, including getting paid for watching football on television (on television) - a role which he manages to fulfil with a cringeworthy amount of self-deprecation that only former midfield hardmen are seemingly allowed to display as pundits.
- Les Reed: Graduating from the perhaps rather less thrilling Technical Director Merry-Go-Round (Howard Wilkinson now enjoys exclusive use, by the way), Reed cut a, quite frankly, pathetic figure at Charlton Athletic in his 41 days in charge (The over-precise unit of days is reserved for short managerial stints and measuring the age of extremely young debutant players). Although his record in that time was unequivocally appalling, Reed claims a place on the MMGR purely on the basis of having “managed” in the Premiership. He will, in the future, have to make do with a position in the Championship. Where he will, in all probability, fail again.
- George Graham: The MMGR’s equivalent of the drunk bloke in the corner of the pub, Graham (if it can be proven that he is, in fact, job-hunting) surely deserves to have the MMGR named after him. Having enjoyed its thrills, on-and-off, since around 1995, Graham has been bogged down by his reputation for bung-taking and defensively-watertight tactics. He has taken Reid’s media side-project to another level, securing a permanent position on Premiership Plus pay-per-view broadcasts. Every Sunday afternoon, he and Marcus Buckland half-heartedly cover a mediocre-looking clash of the midtable middleweights while simultaneously looking like a couple on their first date in Wetherspoons who haven’t been able to find some seats. An MMGR legend, who, if not riding it, is certainly the bloke in the Perspex box operating it
- Glenn Roeder: A rare sight, being actually employed, but a seat is reserved nonetheless for the Chinless Wonder. Short-terms signs that he is turning around the unturnaroundable Newcastle United are a fallacy, and Roeder will be returning to the MMGR before too long. A contender to step into George Graham’s well-worn shoes, perhaps
- Micky Adams: Operating one level below the top flight (sorry, that means The Championship) Adams has enjoyed reassuringly unproductive spells at Brighton, Leicester and, until very recently,
. Still a novice, Adams made the schoolboy error of going out fighting at the Ricoh Arena. A true MMGR regular accepts his inevitable fate (and the handsome pay-off) and retakes his seat on the ride Coventry
- Claudio Ranieri: Proving that the MMGR is not merely a British domestic affair, Ranieri enjoys the most linkage of any of its riders. Linked with a position almost on a weekly basis, Ranieri’s eventual command of the English language means he is a viable candidate for positions across
Europe. But doesn’t he look happy?
- Walter Smith: Another exceptional case. Unless he finally retires, Smith will yo-yo between the Rangers and
roles for eternity, while of course being strongly linked with whichever of the two jobs he isn’t in. Scotland
- Tony Pulis: Drafted in only when the MMGR is at its most fallow, Pulis is, for all intents and purposes, a poor man’s Micky Adams. Doing OK at
though, thank you very much. Stoke City
- Joe Royle: No longer participating, but perhaps looking on misty-eyed from afar, Royle’s MMGR days are over, and he must now make do with flirting with John Helm on Five’s hilarious and brilliant coverage of no-mark away-leg European ties.
- Kevin Keegan: Missing in (in)action.
- Kenny Dalglish: Happy and content with having pioneered the act of “moving upstairs”, Dalglish now lets his super-successful offspring carry on the family name.
- Jean Tigana: Single-handedly supporting the toothpick industry seems to take up most of his time. Only an occasional holiday-visit rider of the MMGR.
- Dr Jozef Venglos: A curious figure, who retains interest in a position on the MMGR because he is intelligent enough to realise that, one day, a desperate chairman will be drawn in by his PhD, which I believe he bought through mail-order in the 1970s.
*This is not an exhaustive list, but the main protagonists have been accounted for. The MMGR is a dynamic environment, and the list is subject to change, ie. trigger-happy club “supremos”.
Supporters In The World" decided to stay in and watch Big Brother instead - not a bad decision as it turned out.
You will know that Newcastle scored a goal and that Birmingham got five, Taylor was sent off and that Glenn Roeder was sorry. But how did the Geordies go out? Yes, I know their back four seem to have had a row and decided not to speak to each other and I know that Shay Given must have left his cape at White Hart Lane on Sunday, leaving him unable to do his normal Superhero impression. But those all answer "why" Newcastle are free to concentrate on the league.
The "how" is, in my eyes, a straight choice. Were they dumped out or did they crash out? I think we can certainly agree on one thing - that it was unceremonious. Despite nearly the whole of the pre- and post-match activities being a ceremony of sorts (the warm ups, the toss, shaking hands, swapping shirts), Cup exits, whether dumping or crashing, have been deemed by whatever power decides these things, always, always unceremonious. I don't make the rules mate - it's a fact.
It is my belief that Newcastle crashed out of the cup. Dumpings are for when two supposedly equally-matched sides face each other and one hands the other their arse on a platter. 3-0 is the perfect score for this sort of dumping. The second sort is when a team from a lower league manage, for some reason, to click, the ball bounces their way and they genuinely, for the key moments in the game, manage to outplay the better side and fluke a win. This team will also have their arse felt up at some stage later on in the competition and a part of me is glad when they do. The big side also have to be away from home to be dumped out!
Sides crashing out are much more fun. Who cares that Birmingham scored five, or even cares that they were playing? Not me. The important fact is Newcastle let in five largely avoidable goals. A joke club, a joke team, playing like jokers. Did anyone send a text last night to a mate saying "are you watching this - Birmingham are quite a good team"? Course you didn't. It was all: "Look how shit Newcastle are" and "is there time for ten?"
And that's the real magic of the Cup. We've got Ronnie Radford for our misty-eyed reminiscing of players who, let's face it, aren't very good. That's his job in history. Can you recall who scored the winner for Wrexham vs Arsenal? Not straight away, I bet, unless you're a Wrexham fan. Just as in years to come you won't remember DJ Campbell and Cameron Jerome - you'll just remember Newcastle crashing unceremoniously out of the cup.